Business Center

Intern Success Story: Melissa Ly

By Shalice Reilly, Process Improvement Intern
Posted: November 5, 2018

Melissa Ly
Melissa Ly
Process Improvement Intern

Melissa Ly began her internship with the Colorado Department of Transportation’s (CDOT) Office of Process Improvement (OPI) in February 2014.  During her five months at CDOT, Ly had several different educational opportunities and made a number of friendships. Overall, Ly said she found the internship to be a “really fun and rewarding experience.”

“I’ve Always Really Loved Math”

Ly earned her Bachelor's of Science in Mathematics at the University of Colorado-Denver. Ly chose to major in Mathematics because she has always loved numbers and had always naturally excelled in her high school math courses. Throughout high school and college, Melissa participated in numerous math competitions to explore her passion for numbers and equations.

It was while completing her degree at the University of Colorado that Ly first learned about the internship opportunities at CDOT. “What really interested me [in the position] was the opportunity to work with such an important organization,” Melissa explained, “The work CDOT does directly affect people’s day-to-day experiences, which is a pretty incredible thing to be a part of.”

Growing and Creating Memories at CDOT

“There aren’t many internships like [those at] CDOT. Gary [Vansuch, the Director of the Office of Process Improvement] gave us so many opportunities to learn and grow, and offered a lot of encouragement,” Ly said.

As an intern, Ly made a number of significant contributions to #TeamCDOT, including quantifying the cost savings benefits of numerous innovations. Ly said that calculating those cost savings was one of her favorite parts of the internship because it gave her the opportunity to work with people from different departments all over the State. As a college student at the time, the project was out of her comfort zone, and she is thankful that she was pushed to expand her horizons and grow through her internship experience.

Beyond quantifying cost savings, Ly said she especially enjoyed her time spent with her fellow interns. She recalled how they all grew very close, often going to lunch together at a local Thai restaurant. “[The restaurant] wasn’t very close to the office, but we would rush there during our lunch break because the food was just so good. It was definitely worth it,” Ly reflected.

Ly also contributed to CDOT by creating book reports on different Lean methodologies, as well as participating in a Lean Rapid Improvement event, and developing Google sites.

What the Experience Taught Her

“My internship with CDOT definitely showed me how to be more transparent in my work,” Ly stated, “Gary was a big part of that. He set such a great example of breaking down ‘silos’ in the workplace and was able to stay very communicative with everyone at CDOT.”

Based on her experience working at CDOT and her time spent in the public sector following her internship, Ly stated: “I’ve found that I really love public sector work because of the type of people that tend to work in that industry. Everyone seems to be a little more passionate overall, and to genuinely enjoy what they do.”

Immediately following her internship at CDOT, she went on to work for the Colorado Department of Health Care Policy and Financing (CDHCPF), first as a Health Data Strategy Analyst, then as a Statistical Analyst. She then worked at the Defense Health Agency as a Bioinformatics Programmer and Data Scientist, and now currently works for Kaiser Permanente as a Business Consultant Senior Analyst.

“I really love what I do, and the company that I work for. They truly value their employees’ happiness and wellbeing, and I definitely appreciate that” Ly expressed. “Working for CDOT taught me so many valuable things, like process mapping and lean methodologies, which I’ve applied in my career ever since. It has also made me aware of the potential for innovation in my workplace.”

How Do I Hire Interns?

Learn about how to utilize CDOT’s internship program in your division by referencing the CDOT Collegiate Internship Handbook.